Choosing Words Wisely

by Judy Mullican

“Wow! You are a great builder!” Ms. Tammy says as she looks at Josh’s complex block construction. No doubt Ms. Tammy means her words to be encouraging, and Josh probably enjoys hearing them. But research shows us that these words are not the most likely to lead Josh to develop persistence and a willingness to try challenging tasks. Ms. Tammy’s words can be termed people praise. That is, they focus on the type of person Josh is rather than his actions. In contrast, process praise focuses on a child’s actions and efforts. Using this type of praise, Ms. Tammy might say, “You worked on that building a long time, Josh. You balanced the blocks carefully so they didn’t fall. I think it’s the tallest one I have seen you build so far! Did it turn out the way you were hoping?” These words draw attention to Josh’s efforts and actions.

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The Power of Words

by Kelley Jilek

words-laughingThe words we speak to children have the power to convey love, acceptance, and care. When children are raised in an environment of positive reinforcement and support, they learn to give those gifts to each other. Research has repeatedly shown that these same children are better able to learn effectively and develop skills that will help them become successful adults and members of society.

Words can also hurt children and seriously damage their self-esteem, impacting their lives for years to come. Words spoken by people in positions of authority, such as parents, teachers, caregivers, and peers, have the potential to be especially detrimental. Hurtful words can lead to depression, heart disease, stress, and even aggression.

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